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US Forest Service eyes drilling approval for Ruby Mountains

The US Forest Service is considering a proposal to allow oil and gas exploration in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains. The proposal would open more than 50,000 acres to drilling, with caveats that operators could not disturb the surface of the mountain range.

The Forest Service’s proposal is detailed in a draft environmental assessment, which was obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group opposed to drilling. If the plan is adopted, drilling companies will be able to place rigs on adjacent BLM property and utilize directional drilling techniques to access any reserves under the mountains.

The 75-mile long stretch of land being considered runs down the mountain range’s western slope, right through the middle of the Pine Valley play in the Mississippian Antler Basin, and into an area sitting on an estimated 5 million bbl of oil.

Despite the possibility of a very lucrative payday for any company lucky enough to tap the reserves, the difficulties of drilling in the Ruby Mountains — where elevation ranges from 6,000 to 10,000 ft above sea level — has led to the field being considered unprofitable at current prices.

Although the proposal is still in its infancy, it has drawn severe criticism from area residents. When the Forest Service requested public input on the plan, the agency received about 7,500 comments opposing the idea.

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